Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Voting, violence, and vacating amendments

My son is African American. So is my stepson. The youngest was born exactly 15 years to the day from Rosa Parks' act of sitting down on the bus and the oldest was born in the late summer when the Civil Rights movement was losing activists to the extreme terrorist violence of southern white racists.

The bus boycott and eventual victory after a year of struggle in Montgomery, Alabama, marked the beginning of the modern Civil Rights movement, launched December 1, 1955 by Parks and subsequently led by Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Summer of 1964 was the struggle focused primarily in Mississippi, but also elsewhere in the former slave states, where black and white activists alike were killed seeking something guaranteed by the 15th Amendment, the right to vote without regard to race. Did James Chaney--a young black kid from Meridian, Mississippi--Andrew Goodman and Michael "Micky" Schwerner--two young Jewish kids from New York city--did they and other murdered civil rights workers die in vain?
The John Roberts-led Supreme Court has now virtually vacated the 15th Amendment by essentially overturning the Voting Rights Act of 1965, saying that statistics on who now votes makes it irrelevant. Never mind that the second provision of the 15th Amendment gives Congress that power to enforce and Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006, overwhelmingly. John "We Don't Need No Stinkin' 15th Amendment" Roberts has ruled.

Really? Think Florida, 2000, when a concerted effort to keep African Americans from voting through dirty tricks reminiscent of the nasty Southern strategies of long questionnaires and intimidation produced a contaminated outcome. Of course, the Supremes intervened in that contest too, giving the election to Bush despite clear evidence of widespread violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 15th Amendment. If the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would have been invoked and upheld, we would not have invaded Iraq and many Iraqis and Americans would still be alive today--and our economy would be much stronger.

Well then, if we are all about gutting Constitutional amendments, if they aren't so sacrosanct after all, how about that Second? I mean, with the Roberts Court effectively quashing the 15th, with NSA romping all over the Fourth, can't we just make a move on the Second? Can't we get rid of a few million handguns? These amendments are up for evisceration--let's do it! Neither of my sons owns a gun and I certainly don't. We are more free, I argue, as a result, and everyone's freedom would be greater if we could be free from guns, so abolish the outdated Stupid Second.

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